Best Chorus Pedals 2019 – Reviews and Top Picks

The ultimate 80’s classic – chorus pedals. If you don’t know what it is or what it does, put on “Smells Like Teen Spirit” or “Come as You Are” by Nirvana. Hear the solo? That’s the chorus effect. It is created by the delay line, which splits the guitar signal and blends the ‘dry’ & ‘wet’ bits together creating thicker, glassy, more spacious tones. As a rock player, I always keep chorus as one of my go to on the pedalboard. It adds so much character to any tune – try playing Nirvana without it. It will be so boring. If you don’t know where to start and what to choose from the best chorus pedals for guitar – I got you covered.

  • Walrus Audio Julia
  • Rating:
  • Pedal Type: All-Analog chorus/vibrato pedal
  • Controls: Rate, Depth, Lag, Dry-Chorus-Vibrato blend
  • Bypass: True Bypass
  • Power requirement:
  • Sockets: Input, Output, Power
Name
Pedal Type:
Controls:
Bypass:
Power requirement:
Sockets:
Price
Name
Pedal Type:
Controls:
Bypass:
Power requirement:
Sockets:
Price
№1
Analog Chorus
Depth, Rate
True Bypass
9V Power Supply, 9V battery
Input, Output, Power
№2
Analog Chorus
Low, High, Level, Rate, Depth
True Bypass
9V Power Supply, 9V battery
Input, Output, Thru, Power
№3
All-Analog chorus/vibrato pedal
Rate, Depth, Lag, Dry-Chorus-Vibrato blend
True Bypass
Input, Output, Power
№4
Analog Chorus
Rate, Depth, Standard/CE-1 mode switch
Buffered
9V Power Supply, 9V battery
Input, 2x output, power
№5
Analog Chorus
Rate, Depth Switch
True Bypass
9V Power Supply
Input, Output, Power
№6
Digital Chorus
Level, EQ, Rate, Depth, Pedal Switch
Buffered
9V DC, either a Dry Battery 9V type or an AC AdapterShow More
Input, Output Stereo, Output Mono
№7
Analog Chorus
Depth, Speed, Mix
True bypass
AC adapter, 9V battery
Input, 2x Output
№8
Analog Chorus
Rate, LED Status indicator
True Bypass
9V Power Supply
Input, Output
№9
Analog Chorus
Depth, Level, Speed
True Bypass
9V Power Supply
Input, Output, Power
№10
Analog Chorus
Level, Depth, Rate
True Bypass
9V Power Supply
Input, Output

If there is one fact that proves this pedal is amazing, listen to “Come as You Are” by Nirvana. Any more questions? Good. This is one of the best chorus pedals for guitar, it is full of personality, yet it has a very simple set up: sturdy metal casing, a True Bypass, one control knob, one 2-way switch, a master on/off foot-switch, Input & Output jacks, and a handy LED meter. What makes it special is the sound and tone effect quality: shimmery, lush, vibey and distorted tones.

Pedal Type:
Analog Chorus
Controls:
Depth, Rate
Bypass:
True Bypass
Power requirement:
9V Power Supply, 9V battery
Sockets:
Input, Output, Power
PROS

“Kurt Cobain” chorus pedal

Classic chorus tone effect quality

Simple but amazing quality

Price

Cons

Lack of versatility

MXR is one of three legendary chorus pedal brands and they’ve earned this title by creating sick, heavy-duty, clean-toned chorus pedals. M234 is one of the best examples of this product line, but it’s not a normal MXR. It’s an all analog pedal with old-school Bucket Brigade electronics. It also has a more complicated control set up, while other MXRs are as simple as ABC. Among the classic analog ones, this is hands down the best chorus pedal for guitars.

Pedal Type:
Analog Chorus
Controls:
Low, High, Level, Rate, Depth
Bypass:
True Bypass
Power requirement:
9V Power Supply, 9V battery
Sockets:
Input, Output, Thru, Power
PROS

Completely analog

Maximum amount of controls

Bucket Brigade Electronics

Classy chorus & warm, liquid tones

Cons

Tone gets lower when effects loop is on

Walrus Audio is an up and coming brand in the music industry, focusing on creating versatile and functional pedals that are ideal for jamming and creative expression. ‘Julia’ is a perfect example of that with its fully analog electronics, a wide range of controls (including Walrus specialty ‘Lag Control’) and a Dry-Chorus-Vibrato (DCV) Blend.

Pedal Type:
All-Analog chorus/vibrato pedal
Controls:
Rate, Depth, Lag, Dry-Chorus-Vibrato blend
Bypass:
True Bypass
Power requirement:
Sockets:
Input, Output, Power
PROS

Wicked design

Dry-Chorus-Vibrato Blend

Special Walrus Audio “Lag Control”

Versatility

Ultra-fine manipulation

Cons

A bit noisy

Pricey

Boss has been making exceptional pedals since the late 1970s. In 2016, to celebrate the brand’s anniversary, Boss released an upgraded version of the original CE-2, reviving the original analog sound in the CE-2W Waza Craft special edition series. The pedal does not only recreate the classic stereo chorus sound of CE-1, but it also adds chorus depth and sounds. Premium all-analog circuitry equipped with Bucked Brigade (BBD) delay line, brings expectational tone and response.

Pedal Type:
Analog Chorus
Controls:
Rate, Depth, Standard/CE-1 mode switch
Bypass:
Buffered
Power requirement:
9V Power Supply, 9V battery
Sockets:
Input, 2x output, power
PROS

Modern take on the classic Boss CE-2W

Legendary BBD tones

Versatility

Cons

Pricey

Remember the EHX Small Clone? Here is its little brother (clone) ‘Neo’. As soon as you start playing, the Matrix will have you. Not really, but it does take you to the world of Nirvana. EHX Neo has a similar set up to the EHX Small Clone, but has a couple of tweaks here and there, and is way cheaper.

Pedal Type:
Analog Chorus
Controls:
Rate, Depth Switch
Bypass:
True Bypass
Power requirement:
9V Power Supply
Sockets:
Input, Output, Power
PROS

Classic EHX & ‘Kurt Cobain’ sound

Enhanced sonic quality and manipulation accuracy

Compact size

Cons

Lacks the versatility

Back in 1976, Boss launched not only it’s very first pedal, but the very first chorus effect pedal ever. Since then Boss pedals became a legend and hold the highest quality standards. CH-1 is obviously not an exception, but it does stand out from the majority of the Boss product line, as it’s a digital chorus pedal. Yes, not analog, but this is allegedly the best-selling chorus on the planet, so don’t let the digitalization scare you off.

Pedal Type:
Digital Chorus
Controls:
Level, EQ, Rate, Depth, Pedal Switch
Bypass:
Buffered
Power requirement:
9V DC, either a Dry Battery 9V type or an AC Adapter
Sockets:
Input, Output Stereo, Output Mono
PROS

Exceptional sound quality

Digital circuitry

Bulletproof build

Mono/Stereo Output

Cons

Lack the warmth of the sound

Obviously, Fender is, first and foremost, a guitar brand, but it also produces accessories and does it well. For all you Strat fans who won’t get their hands on every piece of Fender gear – you won’t be disappointed, as the pedal sufficiently enhances the sound and adds flavor to the tones. It has analog circuitry, three control knobs (Depth, Speed, Mix), Single Input and Dual Outputs (Mono / Stereo).

Pedal Type:
Analog Chorus
Controls:
Depth, Speed, Mix
Bypass:
True bypass
Power requirement:
AC adapter, 9V battery
Sockets:
Input, 2x Output
PROS

By Fender

Doubling effects & Sound quality

Budget friendly

Cons

Lacks sound variety

Standard build

MXR is great at what they do, even when it’s sized for the Ant-man. The solid bulletproof body has an old school set up, including analog circuitry, bucket brigade technology, one control knob (Rate) and a True Bypass all in this tiny body! Due to its simplicity, I’d recommend this option for those who are just starting off in the guitar world.

Pedal Type:
Analog Chorus
Controls:
Rate, LED Status indicator
Bypass:
True Bypass
Power requirement:
9V Power Supply
Sockets:
Input, Output
PROS

Ultra simple to use

Micro format

BBD technology & True bypass

Cons

Noisy

Lacks the versatility

Ibanez isn’t the most popular brand when it comes to chorus pedals, it’s a guitar producer after all. But Ibanez has killed it with this mini version, creating the best chorus pedal for guitars among the mini formats. A 100$ analog circuitry, with Bucket brigade delay, True Bypass, and three control knobs (Speed, Depth, Level) create an incredibly versatile mini pedal.

Pedal Type:
Analog Chorus
Controls:
Depth, Level, Speed
Bypass:
True Bypass
Power requirement:
9V Power Supply
Sockets:
Input, Output, Power
PROS

All-analog

BBD & True Bypass

Versatility of sound effects

Compact size

Cons

Gets noisy

If you are just starting out and looking for something cheap, simple, but also functional – you’ve got a winner – Donner Tutti Love (not, it’s not ice cream). For only $30 you get a mini-pedal with an analog chorus, 3 control knobs (Level, Depth, Rate), LED indicator, HQ pedal, and a True Bypass. Like what else do you want for this price?

Pedal Type:
Analog Chorus
Controls:
Level, Depth, Rate
Bypass:
True Bypass
Power requirement:
9V Power Supply
Sockets:
Input, Output
PROS

Budget friendly

Solid quality

Versatile Controls

True Bypass

Cons

Poor build quality

Buyer’s Guide – Final Verdict

The Chorus Pedals: 101

The chorus pedals are one of the most popular in the music worlds and, some might say, essential pedals in the rock genre. They were a music staple back in the 1980s, but they are still widely applied in most modern rock subgenres, especially in progressive, alternative & indie rock, grunge; but also in jazz and modern pop. Why you might ask?

Well, essentially, it adds depth to the sound and tones, and can also make the signal of one guitar sound like there are 2 or 3 instruments playing simultaneously. If the chorus pedal is powerful enough and is set up properly, of course. The delay line of the chorus creates a shimmering, juicy and syrupy tone effect from the analog circuits; and sharp, clear and glassy tones from the digital circuits.

How Does the Chorus Effect Work?

As you now know, the chorus effect thickens the guitar signal, adds spaciousness and character. How does it do this? Well, essentially, the chorus splits the guitar signal into ‘dry’ (original) & ‘wet’ (duplicated and modified) signals. By splitting the sound, it adds short delays and tone variations. The signal is then blended back together, creating a spacious, thick sound. Acoustically, it sounds like the signal is running through the amps with a tiny little delay between them.

Chorus, as a modulation effect pedal, is usually placed at the end of the signal chain – right before the amplifier. You can also connect it to two amps simultaneously (if the pedal has two outputs) to intensify the modulation effect. As with any other pedal, the chorus effect is manipulated through the control knobs. The more controls you get, the more versatile the chorus pedal is; as you get more room for the modifications, mixing, jamming and all that. It also means you get more precise control over the chorus effect.

Is a Chorus Pedal Necessary?

As with everything in music (ok, mostly everything) it depends purely on the music genre you are playing. If you are a blues or country musician, there is no need for a spacious, shimmering sound. Yet, if you are into rock, indie or pop, or simply play multiple genres and want to add some spice to your practice – do get one. It adds character to your music and helps to shape your unique sound. Start with the die-hard analog classics like MXR M234 or Boss CH-1 to see if the chorus pedal suits your musical style.

What Applications Are Most Suitable for Chorus Effect?

Even though chorus does sound like a really interesting addition to your music, it doesn’t necessarily mean you should use it at all times. There are a couple of tricks to keep in mind when you are setting up a signal chain:

  • Chorus with a Clean Channel – using your chorus on a clean channel does wonders. It’s maybe the simplest amp channel, but it allows you to take most of the chorus as the signal is less affected by the amp itself. You can play more with the controls and you also have more room for creativity.
  • Chorus with Distortion/Overdrive – mixing distortion and chorus together might sound like overkill, but you’ll be surprised how well it works during solos! Blending these two in the main section will mess up the overall sound of the band, but a little bit of chorus effect on the distorted channel will give extra character and help your part to stand out.
  • Transparent Chorus Pedals – too much chorus effect can ruin your sound just as easily as a bad guitar build or crappy bridge. Yet, transparent chorus pedals help to avoid this problem, as their effect on tones is barely noticeable. It doesn’t mean that the effect isn’t noticeable, but that your tone isn’t damaged. Analog pedals are the most transparent ones, as they keep a continuous signal and don’t jeopardize the tone.

Analog VS Digital

The debate between analog and digital chorus is as heated as the one between the Floyd Rose Bridge or a True Bypass. Yet, it all comes down to personal preference. If you really want to know what it’s all about, I’ll give you two explanations, technical and a normal one.

First, the main difference is that analog is a continuous sound signal, while a digital signal represents sound as a sequence of individual discrete values. Basically, the analog sound remains intact through the pedal, the digital samples, and the original guitar signal, creating a discontinuous presentation.

What’s really happening (or what we should care about) is the way it affects the sound. Analog sound is warmer, more natural, and smooth. The digital chorus has this unnatural, mad-man overdrive. However, more precision comes with the digital pedals, as they allow for more accuracy and control precision.

Basic Control Knobs/Settings

There are a number of different control knobs and as some basically mean the same thing, it’s easy to get confused. Especially, because each pedal has a different control knob configuration. Here are the most common ones:

  • Rate // Speed – controls the speed and type of signal modulation (also one of the most popular knobs on chorus pedals)
  • Width // Depth – controls the amount of chorus effect. The higher the setting is, the more noticeable the effect
  • EQ – for boosting or cutting treble frequencies
  • Lag (a specialty of Walrus Audio) – allows you to modify the delay time the effect modulates from. It is needed for extra-fine tuning
  • Level/mix – offers extra precision as it allows for a set amount of choruses coming thru the output

Conclusion

Chorus pedals are one of the most interesting effect modulation pedals on the market. They can turn the driest, flat guitar tone into something colorful and juicy – if you use it appropriately. Choose a digital pedal like Boss CH-1 if you are a progressive/alternative rock player and need some extra sharp overdriven tones. If you are looking for an ultimate classic, get the EHX Small Clone which will take you to the world of Nirvana. But if you are as obsessed with music as I am, get yourself Walrus Audio Julia – a high-end, versatile beast which will take your music to a parallel reality.

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By Max Hudson
    about author

    My name is Max Hudson, born and raised in Chicago. I'm 30 years old and like many other people, I discovered guitar in my teens and have never looked back since. It has quickly evolved into a passion and has given me a creative outlet, something to redirect my time and unlimited energy toward. I want this website to be a handbook for players of all skill levels. It can become a starting point for your new hobby, where you can find the right instrument, get tips for playing effortlessly or anything else music related.

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